Tag Archives: Confederate

Confederates in Montana Territory

BOOK REVIEW: Robison, Ken, Confederates in Montana Territory: In The Shadow of Price’s Army, (South Carolina: The History Press, 2014.) 190 pp., photos, illustrations, bibliography/notes, index. ISBN 978-1-62619-603-2, paperback, $19.99

By Nancy B. Samuelson

Confederates in Montana Terrirtory-Ken Robison
Confederates in Montana Territory: In the Shadow of Price’s Army by Ken Robison

I was eager to dig into this book as I am a long time student of Missourians in the Civil War. However, I was very disappointed in the book. It is an attractive book with a lot of good photos and illustrations, but the research is only skin deep.  The title of the book is misleading as only about four of the men discussed in the book served in Price’s Army. The author does not have a very good grasp on the history of Price’s Army and the guerrilla units associated with Price. The book contains several errors. In the forward to the book, 1859 is given as the year California entered the Union. The correct year is 1850. Colonel Thoroughman was said to have been taken to a prison in Quincy, Illinois after he was captured. There was no Union prison at Quincy, he most likely was taken to the prison at Alton, Illinois. The Moore brothers were said to have gone south into Kentucky and spend a night with John M. James, the grandfather of Jesse James. A good trick indeed, as John M. James died in 1827.

Confederates in Montana
An early tintype, owned by Ken Robison, showing unidentified Confederate soldiers in Montana Territory.

There are two stories in the book concerning supposed Quantrill men. The first story is about James Berry. This chapter is reasonably close to the facts; Berry did serve with Quantrill for a short time. He also did participate in a robbery with the Sam Bass gang and was killed when there was an attempt to apprehend him. The author states that Berry’s family survived to become prominent in Montana history, but leaves the reader completely in the dark about the family’s contribution to the state’s history.

Ken Robison, author
Author Ken Robison

The chapter about Langford “Farmer” Peel, is titled “When Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction”. A good title, since this tale is almost entirely fiction. Langford Peel never served with Quantrill or anybody else during the Civil War. He hung out in mining camps in California, Utah, Nevada and Montana during the time of the Civil War. He was a rough customer and was accused of several murders. He was finally shot and killed in Montana. The tale about some of Quantrill’s men hijacking a steamboat to come after Peel is from a newspaper article from the Great Falls Tribune of April 30, 1922. The story is complete fiction.

There were a number of men from Price’s Army who did go to Montana and who became prominent men. John C. C. “Coon” Thornton and Thomas L. Napton immediately come to mind, but the author ignored these men. Several Quantrill men are known to have gone to Montana too, one served as the Sheriff of Lewis and Clark County. These folks are also ignored. The book is an easy read but it is history light-weight.


This book review is co-published with the James-Younger Gang Journal.


Rhoda May-James

RHODA MAY (1806-1889) is the stalwart spouse of the “talented, but erratic” Rev. Joseph Martin James (1791-1848).

Rhoda withstood all transgressions, indignities, & social ostracism that her husband created with admirable Teutonic stoicism.

When acute alcoholism took Joe’s life at age fifty-seven, Rhoda became a forty-two year old widow, left alone to raise nine children.

For the next forty-one years of her life, Rhoda May James resolutely carried the social burden of her husband’s disgrace. She watched as the Civil War divided her children and tore apart her family. She never remarried.

Home of Rhoda May & Joseph Martin James, built circa 1854

Thanks to Gwen Smith-Gershwin, who is a fourth great granddaughter of Rev. Joseph Martin James & Martha  McAlister, Joe’s first wife, this tintype image of Rhoda May now can be appreciated.

The original tintype was handed down in the family through Rhoda Alice Owens-Cole-Dowell, Rhoda May’s granddaughter & namesake.

Rhoda May

Prior to the contribution of this tintype image to The James Preservation Trust, the only known image of Rhoda May was a framed oval colored photograph. This colored image still hangs in the home of Nelva Anne Herrin, a great granddaughter of Joe Martin & Rhoda May James. Nelva Anne’s contemporary home, built by her father Lem Garland Herrin, sits opposite the decayed ruin of the home built & occupied by her great grandparents Joseph Allen Herrin & Susan Harriet James on the original settlement lands of John M. James at Shopville in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Susan Harriet James is a daughter of Joe Martin James & Rhoda May.


Edward Perry James & his family. Namesake Rhoda May James sitting at her father's knee.

EDWARD PERRY JAMES (1847-1931) was only a year old when his father died. He grew up in his father’s stone house in Shopville, married Elizabeth Langford, & raised a family of nine children in the same house. His youngest child, he named Rhoda May James, after his beloved mother. Progressively selling off his land holdings in Shopville, he removed his family to a new home he built in Berea, Kentucky, where he died.

Susan Harriet James-Herrin

SUSAN HARRIET JAMES (1843-1920) was five years old when Joseph Martin James died. She was thirty years old when she married Joseph Allen Herrin, a Union veteran of the Civil War.

In a diary Herrin kept during the war, he noted the wounding of Susan Harriet’s brother, Andrew James.

Home of Susan Harriet James & Allen Custer Herrin

Herrin was returned from the war for almost a decade, when he and Susan Harriet married in the home of Rhoda May.

On the land of Susan Harriet’s grandfather, John M. James, in Shopville, the couple built themselves a new home. The home remained occupied by her descendants until about 1947, when the couple’s grandson, Lem Garland Herrin, built his bride, Thelma Hayes, a new home directly opposite the lane of the old home.

Mary Harriet James-Owens

MARY HARRIET JAMES (1842-1935), nicknamed Mary Jane, was age ten when her father died. Left alone with Rhoda May to defend the family home during the Battle of Mill Springs, she successfully retained hold of the single horse they owned against marauding soldiers, by claiming half her family fought on one side while the other half fought on the other. Shortly after the war, she married Union veteran Daniel J. Owens, who had been imprisoned during the conflict. She was mother to ten children.  At age ninety, she flew in an airplane for the first time. Flying over five states, she sang “Glory, Glory Halleluiah” and exited the airplane singing “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Rev. Martin Nall James

Rev. MARTIN NALL JAMES (1833-1911) was fifteen when Joe Martin James died. He became a Baptist preacher, but not one like his father. At twenty-five he married Susannah Elizabeth Matthews. The couple elected themselves Baptist missionaries & migrated into Missouri. During the war, he fought on the Confederate side. The couple bore eight children.

Rhoda Ann James, granddaughter & namesake of Rhoda May

CYRENIUS WAITE JAMES (1831-1911) was age seventeen at the time of his father’s death He was Rhoda’s second eldest child. Cy bore witness to much of the abuse suffered by his mother. He and his other siblings also suffered the social stigma brought upon their family by their father’s bigamous third marriage to the youthful Permelia Estepp. Though his half-siblings with Permelia lived in plain view across Flat Lick Creek, the two families remained completely estranged from each other. Cy fought for the Union in the war and was taken prisoner. In prison in Georgia, he awoke to a nightmare of his daughter dying, at the same time she choked to death on some corn In Illinois. Prior to the war he removed his family there. Afterward, he walked them to Texas, where his descendants live today. No picture of Cy is known to exist.  His daughter, Rhoda Ann James, named for his mother and shown here, operated his bank in Rhone, Texas.


John Smith May, nephew of Rhoda May. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society

JOHN SMITH MAY (1835-Aft. 1891) was a farmer and a teacher before the Civil War started. Shortly after joining the Confederate Army he was captured & imprisoned in Ohio. After the Battle of Chancellorsville, he was exchanged. He joined John Hunt Morgan in Sparta, Tennessee, but was captured later again with Morgan, David Hunt James, & Richard Skinner James. He was secondly incarcerated at Camp Douglas in Chicago, but later sent to Virginia. He surrendered with Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. Afterwards he returned to Kentucky to resume teaching. By Elizabeth McQueary he had ten children and by Sallie Thurmond two more. In Pulaski County, he became Superintendent of Schools, the Court Clerk for the county, and was elected to the lower house of the Kentucky State Legislature. He and Rhoda May-James died within a few years of one another.

Chris James says, I can touch, taste, & experience the Civil War

Chris James, Re-enactor

Chris James, born             Christopher David James, is a Civil War re-enactor with The “Tuckahoe Braves,”  27th North Carolina, Company D, Confederate States of America.

He appears in the photo galleries of the group’s web site.

Chris lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he is employed in the security office for Fort Bragg. A native of Stillwater, Oklahoma, Chris settled in North Carolina following his real military service as a sergeant with the 2/504 Infantry. PIR 82nd, Airborne Division, having served in Afghanistan from December, 2002, to August, 2003.

On the James side of his family, Chris proudly claims his cousins, Frank & Jesse James. He’s also a cousin to Walmart founder Sam Walton, his aunt Anne being a close family confidant to the Walton family. On his grandmother’s side, Christ also claims the aviatior-industrialist Howard Hughes as a cousin.


Of his re-enactments, Chris says,  “I try my best at re-enactments and living history events to be accurately as possible to do some justice to what our ancestors endured.”

Recently Chris asked for an enumeration of who among his James relatives served in the Civil War. Specifically he asked, who was on which side.

For the first time, a list now has been compiled from the family’s genealogy and appears below.



Allen Custer Herrin, husband of Susan Harriet James: Oct 12, 1864, Discharged 2nd KY Volunteers, Cavalry Co F, Union

Andrew James, Union. Not identified in the genealogy, only in the diary of Allen Custer Herrin who comments on the death of Andrew James in service.

Cyrenius Waite James: Union. Wounded & POW. Company B, 79th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

John Thomas James:  Pvt. Company B, 12th Kentucky Volunteers, Union

Rev. John James 1862-1917:  Co E. 54th Kentucky Infantry, Union.

William Henry Williams James: Graduate West Point 1868. Commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the 24th United States Infantry. Fort Concho, San Angelo TX 24th Infantry, Company  K

Thomas Hardin Williams James: Attempted to enroll in the U. S. Naval Academy, but he did not pass the examination. Union

Henry James Newton: Union. Assisted Civil War photographer Matthew Brady.


Joel M. James: CSA, brother of John Thomas James

William R. James: CSA

Joseph McAlister “Mack” James: sympathetic to the North. His son Francis Marion James Sr. was CSA.

Andrew Jackson “A.J.” James, served under Preston Leslie & Sterling Price, CSA

William H. “Will” James 1835-1896: Was reported by Herrin in-law that he rode briefly with Frank & Jesse James, but returned home, all shot up and badly crippled for the rest of his life.

John C. Breckenridge Griffin 1824-1907: In the fall of 1861 he joined the Missouri Guards, Company E, Third Missouri Regiment, South. He served under General JOHN B. CLARK until 1863. He was in the Battle of Lexington, Missouri, and other battles. (3rd Division under Sterling Price.)

James Vardeman Matson: Davis Mounted Rifles, commanded by Captain James V. Matson. CSA

Robert Allen Williams James: Attended West Point. Co E, 11th Tennessee Infantry Regulars CSA

Burton Allen James: CSA sympathizer

Henry A. James 1837-Oct 2-4,1862. CSA Killed at Battle of Corinth, MS

Thruston P. “Tommy” James 1846-May 16, 1863. CSA Killed at Champion’s Hill, MS

David Hunt James: CSA, Co A, Second Regiment, Kentcuky Volunteer Cavalry. Jul 19, 1863: Captured at Buffington’s Island with Morgan’s Raiders, imprisoned at Camp Douglas, near Chicago, IL., paroled Feb 1865. Member of the John C. Breckenridge Camp, Confederate  Veteran Association.

Richard Skinner James: Morgan’s Men’s Association: James, Richard. A private Co. P.O.W. Camp Douglas rec’d Aug. 18, 1863 transferred to Point Lookout, MD Feb. 24, 1865.

Henry Field James Jr. b.1799: CSA sympathizer. Author of the book “Abolitionism Unveiled”

Oscar Dunreath West: CSA, never returned home from the war.

Robert Woodson Hite: Quantrill Guerilla

Clarence Jeff Hite
: Quantrill Guerilla

Thomas Martin “T.M: James: CSA sympathizer. Close friend of Jefferson Davis.

William Wythe James: undocumented family member. Served under Quantrill.

Alexander Franklin James, aka Frank James. Partisan guerilla with William Clarke Quantrill

Jesse Woodson James, aka Jesse James. Partisan guerilla with William Clarke Quantrill


John Henry Griffin, 1814-1864, Murdered by James Vonsin, a soldier.